3/31/2011

Latest News on Missouri Nuclear Reactor Agenda

Nuclear siting bill awaits committee action (AUDIO))
by Bob Priddy on March 31, 2011 cross-posted via: Missourinet
 
Four bills focused on how to pay to pick a site for a second commercial nuclear power plant are stuck in a Senate Committee.  Senator Jason Crowell, the sponsor of one of the bills, chairs the committee that held a seven-hour public hearing about three weeks ago. The committee has not considered whether to recommend full senate debate.
For him, the big issue is who will pay for the site selection.  He thinks the utility company and its stockholders should bear that cost.

The sponsor of one of the proposals, Jefferson City Senator Mike Kehoe, thinks most senators are comfortable with having consumers pay for the site selection—but be repaid if no site is picked or no plant goes into operation.

Crowell worries that having consumers pay for the site selection is the first step toward repealing the construction work in progress law that says consumers won't be billed for construction costs until the plant is running.  Kehoe says he favors whichever approach is the most economical way to build the plant.

Kehoe comments 7:38 mp3                   crowell comments 4:03 mp3


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3/30/2011

Ameren UEs Greed-Missouri-Nuclear Reactor-

Here is some of the latest news on Energy (Electricity) Issues affecting the St Louis Area, Ameren UEs Nuclear Reactor Agenda is just plain GREEDY and will cost us the rate payers now and in the future.


  • Amerens goal is to charge the people of the St Louis Area, the ratepayers, millions of dollars up front for an unnecessary, risky, and expensive Nuclear Power Reactor Plant rather than investing in the cheapest energy resource available, energy efficiency
  • The proposed legislation would chip away at a 1976 ballot initiative supported 2-to-1 by Missouri voters. This law protects Missourians from investor-owned utilities charging ratepayers up-front for the construction of a power plant until it is producing electricity.
    • The proposed legislation-SB 321 and SB 406- would chip away at a 1976 ballot initiative supported 2-to-1 by Missouri voters. This law protects Missourians from investor-owned utilities charging ratepayers up-front for the construction of a power plant until it is producing electricity.
  • To understand the many other reasons why SB 321 and SB 406 are bad public policy, read Senator Joan Bray's guest column in the Joplin Globe last month.                                                                                                                                                                                        
  • Ameren admits it cannot find investors to fund the Nuclear Plant because it is too risky and expensive.
    • Scotts Contracting/Facebook Page Latest Estimated Costs for Nuclear Reactor is $10 Billion. we'll have to pay an additional $4 Billion Dollars                                             
  • Therefore, Ameren must pass SB 321 or SB 406 which shifts the financial risk of investment of a new nuclear plant from shareholders to ratepayers.  But while shareholders dodge the risk, they still receive a financial windfall if/when the reactor comes online and Ameren then sells the excess electricity out of state for a premium                                                                                                                                                                          
  1.  
    "If we went after the potential that we've seen in our own study,  we wouldn't have to build another power plant for 20 years, and we could retire Meramec, and we'd be OK.  But we'd lose  $30 million a year. And we just can't do that. It's that simple."
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Join the Movement and Contact the Missouri Legislative Department Here


-Find Your Representatives-Republican or Democrat,
and Let Your Voice BE HEARD!     
Active Participation is Suggested
Tell My Politician



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Missouri-Lobby Day 2011 Registration



If you care about Missouri's environment and want to make a difference, we need your help! Join MVC, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Sierra Club and citizens from across Missouri as we convene at the state Capitol for Conservation Lobby Day on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

9am - 4pm
The day begins at the Governor's Office Building
200 Madison St. - Room 450
Jefferson City, MO 65101


This is an important opportunity to share your passion for the environment with state legislators, and have a big impact on environmental policies affecting Missouri.

Each year, Missourians gather at the capitol to make their conservation values known - from environmentalists, scientists, students and business owners to hunters, anglers and farmers. On Lobby Day, advocate for one of these important issues:
  • Defending Missouri Renewable Energy: Defending Missouri's 2008 voter-enacted Renewable Electricity Standard.
  • Protecting Water Quality: Ensuring adequate monitoring and enforcement to protect Missouri's streams and lakes.
  • Upgrading State Parks: Aquiring funding for vitally-needed capital improvements to maintain Missouri's excellent parks.
  • Advancing Energy Efficiency and Green Building: Making buildings more energy efficient through green building standards.
Become part of the political process, and add your voice to others in Missouri's environmental community. By speaking out with a unified voice for environmental values, we can help shape the future of our state.  

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Here is some of the latest news on Energy (Electricity) Issues affecting our Area


  • Ameren's goal is to charge the people of the St Louis Area, the ratepayers, millions of dollars up front for an unnecessary, risky, and expensive power plant rather than investing in the cheapest energy resource available, energy efficiency
  • The proposed legislation would chip away at a 1976 ballot initiative supported 2-to-1 by Missouri voters. This law protects Missourians from investor-owned utilities charging ratepayers up-front for the construction of a power plant until it is producing electricity.
    • The proposed legislation-SB 321 and SB 406- would chip away at a 1976 ballot initiative supported 2-to-1 by Missouri voters. This law protects Missourians from investor-owned utilities charging ratepayers up-front for the construction of a power plant until it is producing electricity.
  • To understand the many other reasons why SB 321 and SB 406 are bad public policy, read Senator Joan Bray's guest column in the Joplin Globe last month.                                                                                                                                                                                        

  • Ameren admits it cannot find investors to fund the nuclear plant because it is too risky and expensive.

    • Scotts Contracting/Facebook Page Latest Estimated Costs for Nuclear Reactor is $10 Billion. we'll have to pay an additional $4 Billion Dollars                                             

  • Therefore, Ameren must pass SB 321 or SB 406 which shifts the financial risk of investment of a new nuclear plant from shareholders to ratepayers.  But while shareholders dodge the risk, they still receive a financial windfall if/when the reactor comes online and Ameren then sells the excess electricity out of state for a premium.                                                                                                                                                                           
  •  Ameren can easily meet Missouri's energy needs through energy efficiency instead of raising your electric rates to pay for a $6 billion nuclear reactor.  In the St. Louis Post Dispatch on February 25, Steve Kidwell, Ameren Missouri Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, said:  
  1.  

    "If we went after the potential that we've seen in our own study,  we wouldn't have to build another power plant for 20 years, and  

    we could retire Meramec, and we'd be OK.  But we'd lose  $30 million a year. And we just can't do that. It's that simple."


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New 2011 CSP Today World Map



The 2011 version of the CSP Today World Map has been released, displaying all concentrated solar thermal projects in USA and worldwide whether under planning or construction or operational.

This unique document gives you a bird´s eye view of what is happening in the US in the concentrated solar thermal power industry.

You can download the map from here:

http://rencd-media.com/portal/wts/cemcDAaA-RebaDsF2fs90-aAw-Aeyd

I hope that you find it useful!  Let me know your thoughts

Thanks

Belén

Belén Gallego
CSP Today
belen@csptoday.com

US Phone 201 204 1914
UK Phone +44 207 3757555

__________________________________________________________



You may also contact us at:
RenewableEnergyWorld.com
9 Vose Farm Road
Peterborough, NH 03458 - USA



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Efficiency First






2010 MCE E-Alert Header
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3/29 - Conservation Lobby Day

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Japanese Disaster is Yet Another Reason
Why Ameren Must Pursue Efficiency First

 

Our sympathy goes out those who lost loved ones in last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami. As the Japanese reel from this disaster, they are now also under high alert for a nuclear reactor meltdown and radiation exposure.  

 

While members of the U.S. Congress are discussing a possible moratorium on new nuclear reactors until safety issues are addressed, the Missouri General Assembly is considering legislation that would allow Ameren Missouri to charge ratepayers $40 million for a permit for a second nuclear reactor in mid-Missouri.  

 

The proposed legislation would chip away at a 1976 ballot initiative supported 2-to-1 by Missouri voters. This law protects Missourians from investor-owned utilities charging ratepayers up-front for the construction of a power plant until it is producing electricity.  

 

To understand the many other reasons why SB 321 and SB 406 are bad public policy, read Senator Joan Bray's guest column in the Joplin Globe last month.

In short, Ameren admits it cannot find investors to fund the nuclear plant because it is too risky and expensive.   

 

Therefore, Ameren must pass SB 321 or SB 406 which shifts the financial risk of investment of a new nuclear plant from shareholders to ratepayers.  But while shareholders dodge the risk, they still receive a financial windfall if/when the reactor comes online and Ameren then sells the excess electricity out of state for a premium.    

 

History tells us only 50% of proposed nuclear reactors are completed and produce electricity in the U.S. These are not good odds for ratepayers who will have to pay for a new reactor whether or not it actually comes online.

 

The most frustrating thing about this proposition is that Ameren can easily meet Missouri's energy needs through energy efficiency instead of raising your electric rates to pay for a $6 billion nuclear reactor.  In the St. Louis Post Dispatch on February 25, Steve Kidwell, Ameren Missouri Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, said:  

 

"If we went after the potential that we've seen in our own study,  

we wouldn't have to build another power plant for 20 years, and  

we could retire Meramec, and we'd be OK.  But we'd lose  

$30 million a year. And we just can't do that. It's that simple."  

 

So at the end of the day, Ameren's own numbers show that an aggressive energy efficiency plan will keep electric bills lower than other energy options. But, the company's sole concern is shareholder profits.

 

Kidwell's concern about loss revenue has been addressed through new rules developed by the Public Service Commission this year. Utilities are now reimbursed for costs associated with implementing efficiency programs and for revenue they lose when the efficiency programs cause customers to buy less power.  

 

Ameren's goal is to charge you, the ratepayer, millions of dollars up front for an unnecessary, risky, and expensive power plant rather than investing in the cheapest energy resource available, energy efficiency.    

 

Now is the time to get involved!  Attend Conservation Lobby Day on Tuesday, March 29 and speak to state legislators about this issue and other critical environmental policies.  

 

Ed Smith
Missouri Coalition for the Environment  

No-CWIP Coordinator 



Missouri Coalition for the Environment | 6267 Delmar Blvd., Ste. 2E | St. Louis | MO | 63130



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Invitation: MCE Annual Meeting-Friendraiser-Schlafly Tap Room

On Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 12:17 PM, Missouri Coalition for the Environment <moenviron@moenviron.org> wrote:
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2011 Annual Meeting

Biomass? Coal? Clarifying "Clean" in the Energy Debate
Sunday, April 10 at 3:30 PM
Schlafly Tap Room
2100 Locust St., St. Louis, MO

As Missouri confronts its dependence on coal and seeks renewable alternatives, "biomass" is emerging as part of the mix. Before Missouri has invested sufficiently in wind, solar, hydro and energy efficiency, our state is facing proposals for 32-40 megawatt power plants fueled by forest-based biomass. How clean are these plants?

Please join us for an examination of Missouri's energy priorities as we compare our energy options.
  • What are the air pollution impacts from biomass v. coal?
  • Is forest biomass sustainable?
  • What is clean, renewable biomass?
  • How can we secure our coal-free energy future?
Annual Meeting will also include Board of Directors elections, door prizes and updates on MCE's program work.

*Free* Members and non-members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please RSVP online if you plan on attending.

Eating Lightly Cookbook

Eating Lightly
for our planet
for our health
for robust pleasure

Eating Lightly cookbook coverEating Lightly is a collection of over 400 vegetarian and vegan recipes from friends of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, ranging from the family of the Missouri Botanical Garden's Pat and Peter Raven to some of Missouri's most creative professional chefs to your next-door neighbor. Not only have contributors shared favorite recipes but, often, the stories behind them. This is a cookbook with personality! Eight Missouri artists have contributed work to make Eating Lightly a visual feast as well.

In addition to offering a wide range of vegetarian and vegan appetizers, soups, salads, breads, side dishes, entrees, and desserts, this collection notes which of its recipes are gluten-free.

Copies can be purchased for only $20 apiece (plus $3 shipping) online and by cash or check only with a visit to any of the following St. Louis metro locations:

Downtown St. Louis -- Left Bank Books at 321 N. 10th
South City -- Local Harvest Grocery at 3108 Morganford
Home Eco at 4611 Macklind
Urban Eats Café & Bakery at 3301 Meramec St.
Sweet Art at 2203 S. 39th St.
CWE - Left Bank Books at 399 N. Euclid
University City Loop - Plowsharing Crafts at 6271 Delmar
Kirkwood - Cornucopia at 107 N. Kirkwood Rd.
Maplewood - Stone Spiral Coffee & Curios at 2500 Sutton

All proceeds from the sale of Eating Lightly will benefit the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, a member-supported and member-directed organization that has been strengthening environmental protections, holding government and corporations accountable, defending the environment in court, and mobilizing citizens to action for over forty years.
Missouri Coalition for the Environment | 6267 Delmar Blvd., Ste. 2E | St. Louis | MO | 63130



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UN report: Cities ignore climate change at their peril

  • In industrialised nations, urban living demands more water, natural resources and energy
  • Urban areas are set to become the battleground in the global effort to curb climate change, the UN has warned

29 March 2011 By Mark Kinver Science and environment reporter, BBC News
 In industrialised nations, urban living demands more water, natural resources and energy

Urban areas are set to become the battleground in the global effort to curb climate change, the UN has warned.

The assessment by UN-Habitat said that the world's cities were responsible for about 70% of emissions, yet only occupied 2% of the planet's land cover.

While cities were energy intensive, the study also said that effective urban planning could deliver huge savings.

The authors warned of a "deadly collision between climate change and urbanisation" if no action was taken.

The Global Report on Human Settlements 2011, Cities and Climate Change: Policy Directions, said its goal was to improve knowledge of how cities contribute to climate change, and what adaptation measures are available.

Worrying trend

Joan Clos, executive director of UN-Habitat, said the global urbanisation trend was worrying as far as looking to curb emissions were concerned.

"We are seeing how urbanisation is growing - we have passed the threshold of 50% (of the world's population living in urban areas)," he told BBC News.

"There are no signs that we are going to diminish this path of growth, and we know that with urbanisation, energy consumption is higher.

According to UN data, an estimated 59% of the world's population will be living in urban areas by 2030.

Every year, the number of people who live in cities and town grows by 67 million each year - 91% of this figure is being added to urban populations in developing countries.

The main reasons why urban areas were energy intensive, the UN report observed, was a result of increased transport use, heating and cooling homes and offices, as well as economic activity to generate income.

The report added that as well as cities' contribution to climate change, towns and cities around the globe were also vulnerable to the potential consequences, such as:

Increase in the frequency of warm spells/heat waves over most land areas
  • Greater number of heavy downpours
  • Growing number of areas affected by drought
  • Increase in the incidence of extremely high sea levels in some parts of the world

Soweto, Southern Africa is considered to be one of the areas at most risk from the impacts of climate change

The authors also said that as well as the physical risks posed by future climate change, some urban areas would face difficulties providing basic services.

"These changes will affect water supply, physical infrastructure, transport, ecosystem goods and services, energy provision and industrial production," they wrote.

"Local economies will be disrupted and populations will be stripped of their assets and livelihoods."

A recent assessment highlighted a number of regions where urban areas were at risk from climate-related hazards, such as droughts, landslides, cyclones and flooding.

These included sub-Saharan Africa, South and South East Asia, southern Europe, the east coast of South America and the west coast of the US.

Time to act

Dr Clos told BBC News that while climate change was a problem that affected the entire world, individual towns and cities could play a vital role in the global effort to curb emissions.

"The atmosphere is a common good, which we all depend upon - every emission is an addition to the problem," he explained.

But, he added: "Consumption is carried out at an individual level; energy consumption is also an individual choice.

"This is why local governments and communities can a big role, even when their national governments do not accept or acknowledge the challenges."

The report called on local urban planners to develop a vision for future development that considered climate change's impact on the local area.

It said that it was necessary to include mitigation measures (reducing energy demand and emissions) as well as adaptation plans, such as improving flood defences.

In order to achieve the most effective strategy, it was necessary for urban planners to seek the views of the local community, including businesses and residents.

However, the UN-Habitat authors said international and national policies also had a role to play in supporting urban areas.

These included financial support, reducing bureaucracy and improving awareness and knowledge of climate change and its possible impacts.

Dr Clos was launching the report on Monday evening at an event in central London, hosted by the London School of Economics.

Article reposted from- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12881779

Benefits of Westinghouse Solar Photovoltaic Systems

Westinghouse Solar Photovoltaic Systems Offers 

Maximum Lifetime Performance

With Enphase micro-inverters built right into each panels. Westinghouse delivers decades of powerful performance. Unlike ordinary solar panels where their power production varies from hour to hour, each Westinghouse Solar panel consistently operates at its maximum power potential. Additionally, these revolutionary panels continue to operate at maximum power even if one panel goes down compared to ordinary panels where the malfunction of one panel from shading or other failures takes down all of the panels. As a result, these revolutionary panels can perform 5% to 25% higher than ordinary panels.


Beautiful Appearance on Your Roof

No ugly external racks or dangling wires
No gaps between panels for a contiguous, smooth appearance
Westinghouse Solar Panels are beautiful, low profile, all black panels look like skylights
Only these Skylights Make $money$.

Award Winning

Westinghouse is recognized across the industry for its revolutionary design delivering the first major improvement to solar power in over thirty years.
Industry Recognized – Award Winning: Westinghouse is an Integrated Solar Power System


Built-in Reliability and Safety

No single point of system failure
Built-in electrical and ground connectors cannot loosen or be installed incorrectly
No dangerous 600 volt DC wiring
Shorter wire lengths are less likely to fail by pinching or abrading
70% fewer roof-assembled parts means a longer lasting system
25% fewer roof attachment points means greater roof integrity
Grounding process cannot skip panels, connectors will not wear or corrode

Authorized Distributor Westinghouse Solar St Louis Renewable Energy
Scotts Contracting-St Louis Renewable Energy

loan guarantees for renewable energy projects and Budget Cuts

About $41 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy projects are caught up in the bipartisan wrangling over the federal budget, which could derail dozens of projects and eliminate tens of thousands of jobs. Even established companies are concerned, underscoring the nascent industry's reliance on government help.

A Republican proposal to slash the loan-guarantee program was included in a U.S. House of Representatives' budget bill passed last month. Such a move would be a setback for the Obama Administration's push to develop alternate sources of energy, slash greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs.

Renewable energy companies, particularly solar power product makers and developers, say the loan-guarantee program administered by the Department of Energy is crucial to allow projects currently under development to proceed. Loan guarantees for nuclear plants would not be affected.

"The DOE loan program provides an important financing 'bridge' at a time when the U.S. private debt markets have little to no experience financing first of their kind utility-scale solar projects," First Solar Chief Executive Rob Gillette said in an email. He said the program supports large solar projects that create jobs, state and local tax revenue and investment opportunities.

The loan guarantee acts as lenders' insurance in case of default or unforeseen delay for technologies trying to go commercial for the first time. It is meant to push companies out of the so-called valley of death where private equity or debt investors are reluctant to cover huge construction costs on unproven technology given the sluggish growth outlook power demand.

First Solar has more than 2,000 megawatts of solar farms under development in the U.S. Among them is a 290-megawatt Arizona project called Agua Caliente, for which the company obtained a $967 million conditional DOE loan guarantee. Independent power producer NRG Energy Inc. (NRG) agreed to buy the solar farm, but only if the DOE provides the loan guarantee.

"Without the federal loan guarantee program, private sector capital earmarked for this and other clean energy projects will stay on the sidelines," NRG Chief Financial Officer Christian Schade said by email. NRG is seeking DOE loan guarantees for two other solar farms and an offshore wind project.

If the House proposal to slash funding were to proceed, the DOE would be forced to withdraw six conditional loan guarantees the agency has issued to renewable projects, said Ebony Meeks, spokeswoman for the agency. In addition, 25 other renewable energy projects that are currently in the final stages of receiving their loan guarantees would not get them, she said.

Together, these projects are seeking more than $13.6 billion in loans to finance $24.5 billion in new energy infrastructure that are estimated to put more than 25,000 Americans to work, Meeks said. Since 2009, the DOE has issued nearly $4.4 billion in such loan guarantees.

Cutting the DOE program would "kill all clean energy projects with pending DOE loan guarantee applications, causing the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and many other benefits," the Solar Energy Industries Association said in a statement.

Federal loan guarantees, along with a investment tax credit and other incentives helped the U.S. solar power market more than double in 2010, with similar growth expected this year, according to analysts and solar power companies.

While larger companies will be able to continue developing projects, albeit on a smaller scale, without loan guarantees, small business owners may be forced to abandon their projects.

James Taylor and his family have sunk their fortune into a $145 million project in Montgomery, N.Y. that converts waste into electricity. The Taylor BioMass Energy project is close to finalizing terms for a $100 million loan guarantee, which the company needs to obtain a loan of that size from a separate DOE program, said Taylor, the company's chief executive.

"We've got every cent that we own in this project on the faith and belief that it appears that [the loan guarantee] is finally going to happen," Taylor said.

After unsuccessfully shopping the project to 150 venture capital, debt and equity investors, the DOE may be Taylor's only way for retaining control over the landfill technology that he spent more than 15 years developing. "I'm hoping I don't have to give it away," he said.

-By Naureen S. Malik, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-4210; naureen.malik@dowjones.com

By Naureen S. Malik and Cassandra Sweet
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

Earl Energy lights up $5M equity offering for miltary power options

Earl Energy lights up $5M equity offering for miltary power options
March 30th, 2011

Earlcon

An Earlcon systems

PORTSMOUTH, VA – Companies with a renewable energy focus are likely to get yet another boost in attention and backing following the Obama administration’s shoves in that direction and increasing focus on energy due to both Japan’s struggles with its nuclear plants and the disruptive political climate in the Middle East. One firm that may benefit is Earl Energy, a company owned and led by veterans that provides power plant engineering and energy management primarily to the military, has opened a $5 million equity offering.

One of the company’s signature products is its Earlcon: the Energy at Remote Locations Container, a fully configurable energy solution for the expeditionary environment. It is a family of rugged and rapidly deployable power generation systems that employ a combination of solar, wind and battery storage integrated with the latest generation of Tactical Quiet Generators .

Equipped with the Earl Energy Management System, a proprietary smart power distribution system that dynamically manages and prioritizes loads ensuring critical equipment, such as communications, surveillance, and other devices, receive continuous power where grid supplied power does not exist.

The company focuses on renewable energy sources and develops unique power systems for military needs. Those include a diesel-lithium battery field generator and a solar panel array.

TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:

SoutheastVentureConference: www.seventure.org

Internet Summit: www.internetsummit.com

Digital East: www.digitaleast.com

Digital Summit: www.digitalsummit.comEarl Energy lights up $5M equity offering for miltary power options

Solar CEOs to Congress: Don't Ax Our Loans

CEOs of green energy companies including First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWRA) petitioned Congress on Tuesday to spare two key Department of Energy loan guarantee programs from the Congressional budget ax.

By Eric Rosenbaum - The Street

The deficit hawks in Congress have taken aim at the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program that has helped to finance the development of solar power companies and specific solar power plants. The 1705 DOE loan guarantee program could be completely eliminated, while the 1703 DOE loan guarantee program could see its funding cut in half from roughly $50 billion to $26 billion. In the letter, the green energy CEOs specifically ask that Congress allow section 1705 projects to be transferred to section 1703 of the DoE loan guarantee program.


Solar energy experts have said in the past that if the 1703 DOE loan guarantee program were cut in half, it's possible that there would be no funding for any projects under this program other than nuclear energy -- that, however, was analysis in the pre-Japanese nuclear crisis days. In the case of the broader attack on the 1705 DOE loan guarantee, talk in the solar market has hit the level of hyperbole, with solar sector executives talking about Congress "killing" solar projects.

First Solar CEO Robert Gillette and SunPower CEO Tom Werner were among the signatures on the letter sent to both Senate and House leaders.

The green energy CEOs struck both the rhetorical high note of losing the green energy race to China, and the bottom line reality of U.S. job numbers, in making their pitch for extension of the DoE loan programs.

"We are deeply concerned that eliminating funding for this critical program will not only destroy thousands of pending jobs and hinder the growth of critically-needed U.S. domestic energy production, but also defeat America's effort to compete with China, Germany, and others in the clean technology marketplace," the green energy CEOs wrote. In addition to both public and private solar companies, CEOs of wind, geothermal, biomass, and biofuel companies signed the letter to Congress in defense of the DoE loan guarantee program.

The green energy lobby stated these data points in its letter:

The program's real costs are paid for by the companies that submit applications, and each federal dollar of loan guarantees leverages $13 in private capital investment.
This program has already committed more than $26 billion in loans and loan guarantees to projects that represent $42 billion in investment the U.S. economy.

The green energy lobby continued in its letter:

The investments represent an estimated 58,000 direct and indirect jobs across 19 states.
Projects still in the pipeline for approval that would be killed or put at risk by the proposal in H.R. 1 to take away the funding for the program represent an additional $24 billion in near-term investment in America's energy infrastructure and another 35,000 jobs.

Putting the numbers aside, there is a philosophical divide in the budgetary debate. There is a belief among some politicians that the government should not be in the business of "picking" the winners and losers in the green energy market development, and they argue that aside from budgetary constraints, the DoE loan guarantee program tilts too far in this direction.

There is also a philosophical divide over the idea that green energy draws a straight line to job growth. The conventional economic debate over "broken windows theory" applies to green energy. If a bakery window is broken, the theory goes, it creates a job for the window replacement company, which then goes out and spends the money it has earned on the wares of other merchants. Therefore, the person who broke the window is a benefactor of the economy. Yet there is stiff philosophical opposition from some conservatives that the "broken windows theory" is a fallacy, especially when it comes to green energy, and that replacing one job for another does not create a new job or add to the economy, but in fact, the broken window destroys a job that is not visible to the public.

When it comes to green energy jobs, one fact that can be stated plainly is that the industry is so young the US government does not have enough data on its overall impact on the economy.

In the solar sector context specifically, the Department of Energy loan guarantee program is more important to the solar thermal industry than photovoltaic solar companies -- solar thermal is more expensive and needs more support -- yet it has still been a major source of funding for utility-scale solar projects of all types. Most importantly, any Department of Energy loan guarantee that can't be accessed as part of financing by a solar company like First Solar, as it builds and sells utility-scale solar power projects means one thing: that the company has to sell projects at a lower price overall to make up for the buyer's need to bring more equity to the table.

First Solar recently closed a DOE loan guarantee that enabled it to achieve a higher sales price on its Agua Caliente project. First Solar has applied for DOE loans on many other projects in its pipeline too.

Ken Hansen, a partner at Chadbourne & Parke who works on solar financing, said it would be "an epic breach of faith" for the government to eliminate the DOE loan guarantee programs.

Thomas Amis, partner at Cooley, said that the DOE has done much to respond to many of the criticisms lodged against the loan guarantee program in the past, and that to gouge the program now would be penny-wise and pound-foolish. "It would be the height of irony that precisely at the moment when Jonathan Silverexecutive, director of the DOE loan program office, has his loan guarantee team fully assembled and operating on all cylinders, it is essentially defunded," Amis said.

Amis did not want to employ the hyperbole of the solar market being "killed" as a result of an elimination of the DOE loan guarantee program, but he maintains that it's a serious issue for the growth of the US solar market. While experts including Amis agree that the DOE program is more important to solar thermal companies, they worry that the former primary mechanism for financing of all solar projects -- tax equity under the investment tax credit (ITC) -- has not returned to a healthy enough level to make up for an abrupt end to the DOE loan program.

Amis added that while, to date, the DOE loan program has been more focused on solar thermal, given the continued constraints in the private project finance market an abrupt end to the DOE loan program will have a disproportionate impact.

Additionally, the Internal Revenue Service section 1603 cash grant program, which some solar experts argue is a better way to fund renewable energy than the DOE loan program due to its wider availability, is set to expire at the end of the year. Though the cash grant program could be extended for one more year, as it was in the 2010 tax cut package (current industry outlook is not bright for its extension), any budget hit on the DOE loan program coupled with the cash grant expiration would be a double whammy for renewable energy financing.

"Very few developments can completely destroy an industry, but in a constrained financing environment the disappearance of the DOE Loan Guaranty Program will represent a huge setback to the deployment of innovative renewable energy technologies," Amis said.

Solar Technology News-Artifical Leaf

  • One Artificial 'Solar Leaf' Could Power Entire Household
  • one prototype work for 45 hours straight without dipping in efficiency
  • ...could actually make it onto the market because of its low cost. It’s created from nickel and cobalt, making large-scale manufacture feasible.
  • 'artificial leaf' is submerged in water under direct sunlight, allowing it to break down the liquid into hydrogen and oxygen. 
  • These gases are then stored in the fuel cell

It’s no surprise that the most notable scientific breakthroughs have come from technology that allows us to do what nature does, well…naturally.

photosynthesis solar leaf

For instance, scientists have spent years trying to replicate photosynthesis, a process so intricate and complicated it took a multitude of trials to figure out. But they have made a breakthrough—and the impact it could have on off-grid living is huge.

The announcement of the breakthrough was made by the American Chemical Society, an organization of researchers that were able to create an “artificial leaf” capable of turning sunlight directly into energy for later use.

So what makes it different from any other solar cell currently on the market? Just like a regular leaf, it uses water.

In fact, the “artificial leaf” is submerged in water under direct sunlight, allowing it to break down the liquid into hydrogen and oxygen. These gases are then stored in the fuel cell.

While the process is impressive, the amount of energy it can produce is even more amazing—one single leaf could power an entire household in a developing area. They’ve already seen one prototype work for 45 hours straight without dipping in efficiency.

While the technology itself has been around for nearly a decade now, this particular model could actually make it onto the market because of its low cost. It’s created from nickel and cobalt, making large-scale manufacture feasible.

Daniel Nocera, Ph.D. and head researcher on the team said it best:

“A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades. We believe we have done it. The artificial leaf shows particular promise as an inexpensive source of electricity for homes of the poor in developing countries. Our goal is to make each home its own power station. One can envision villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing an affordable basic power system based on this technology.”

Photo Credit: Yoko Nekonomania via Flickr CC

Posted on March 30th in Solar Products by Kayla.

3/29/2011

Re: Will There Be a Clean Air Act Tomorrow?



On Tue, M

March 29, 2011: In This Issue
º Mercury Pollution Near You
º What's Next for Nuclear Power
º Coal Plant for Sale
º You vs. Exxon Mobil
º A Day of Action for Workers

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IN THE NEWS
The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign director, Mary Anne Hitt, recently appeared on Good Morning America to talk about how you can avoid mercury in your diet and get tested for exposure. (Don't miss seeing the show's host get his results on camera).

To learn more about mercury -- and possibly get tested yourself -- sign up at our Stop Polluters website.


EXPLORE
Firm Up Your Vacation Plans

Firm Up Your Vacation Plans
Can't wait for the snow to melt? Warm up for summer on one of the Sierra Club's plentiful spring trips -- or book your summer trip while spots are still available.

Explore the fabulous canyons, lakes, and waterfalls of Northern Yosemite, pitch in on a service project and kayak in Florida's Cayo Costa Island State Park, or whitewater raft spectacular wilderness canyons in Utah and Colorado's Dinosaur National Monument.

Visit our Outings website to find the trip that's right for you. And be sure to sign up for the Explorer newsletter for monthly updates on new and featured trips!


TODAY'S GREEN TIP
When you consider that showering uses 7 gallons of water per minute, it starts to hit home why you'd want to turn off that tap earlier. Low-flow showerheads certainly help — they'll get you down to 2.5 gallons per minute — but the biggest savings occurs when you just jump in, rinse off, then get out.
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ENJOY
Check out Nests in Sierra magazine

Not-So-Empty Nests
Which feathered lovers regurgitate food during courtship? Which pint-sized bird binds its home together with spiderwebs? Which mother leaves weak hatchlings to die? Learn some strange, true facts about nests and the birds that build them in this Sierra magazine slideshow.


ON THE RADIO
1) Forrest North and Armen Petrosian, founders of a new iPhone app called PlugShare, which helps electric vehicle owners find places they can plug in anywhere in the country 2) Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz, filmmakers of a new documentary about bees called Queen of the Sun 3) Jody Farnham, author of The Joy of Cheesemaking 4) Green cuisine tips from chef Annie Somerville.
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PROTECT
Protect our streams from mining

Keep Mountain Streams Clean
Some members of Congress want to make it easier for Big Coal to destroy our mountains and pollute our streams. Their plan is to strip the EPA's ability to protect us from mining pollution -- requiring them to ignore science as Big Coal fills mountain streams with toxic waste.

Tell Congress to let the EPA do its job to protect America from mountaintop-removal mining.
Ask your senator to support the Clean Air ActWill There Be a Clean Air Act Tomorrow?

To protect the corporate polluters that got them elected, several U.S. senators are pushing legislation that would gut the Clean Air Act.

The vote could happen any day this week, which is why it's urgent that you call your senators and tell them to stand up to Big Oil and Coal. The Clean Air Act has a 40-year track record of protecting our health and saving lives. Contact your senators now before it's too late.


Check out our new coal map Is There Mercury Pollution Near You?

Mercury is poisonous and every year about 48 tons of it get dumped into our air and water, and winds up in our food. That's because almost two-thirds of coal-fired power plants lack the necessary pollution controls to keep toxic air pollution like mercury, acid gases, and arsenic out of our air and water.

What can you do? Find out if there is a polluting coal plant near you (use our brand new map) and then learn what you can do to help phase out this old, dirty way of generating power.
A Roadless Walk Across California A Roadless Walk Across California

At 74 years young, Santa Lucia Chapter member Cal French has seen the California landscape change dramatically, with sprawl development and Joshua trees on a collision course. As the climate changes, though, wild plants and animals need secure open-space corridors so they can adjust and adapt.

To highlight the need to save those natural corridors, Cal has pulled on his boots and started a two-month, 530-mile roadless hike all the way from the Colorado River westward to Morro Bay.

Follow his progress as he blogs and posts photos from his trek.
The Sierra Club opposes nuclear power What's Next for Nuclear Power

The tragedy in Japan has suddenly cast the risks of nuclear power in a different light for many of its former supporters, but the Sierra Club has consistently been opposed to nuclear power.

As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune wrote for Fortune magazine this month: "We shouldn't be throwing good money after bad and using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the construction of new nuclear plants. Instead, we should be deepening our commitment to an aggressive transition toward cleaner energy resources, like solar and wind, that don't cause catastrophic meltdowns, don't cause massive spills on our coastlines, and don't contribute to global warming."

Maybe then we won't need to mine for uranium right next to Grand Canyon National Park.


Coal plant for sale Coal Plant for Sale

In the market for your own personal outdated energy source? You're in luck -- Santee Cooper is selling all the parts and design for its now-canceled coal plant in South Carolina. Yes, the company has even listed it as "for sale" in Power Engineering magazine. The Sierra Club has been heavily involved in fighting this plant, which is one of more than 150 we've stopped through our Beyond Coal campaign.

Now we're looking for your ideas: What should be done with all those spare parts?
Join the Activist Network
Watch The Story of Citizens United v. FEC: Why Democracy Only Works When People Are in Charge The Difference Between You and Exxon Mobil

The people who created the wonderful "Story of Stuff" video didn't stop there -- they've now released "The Story of Citizens United v. FEC: Why Democracy Only Works When People Are in Charge."

That's a mouthful, but it really comes down to why corporate spending to influence politicians and elections has exploded ever since the Supreme Court granted corporations like Exxon Mobil the same free-speech rights enjoyed by actual human beings. The result: "a democracy in crisis."

Watch it now and then take action to demand reform.
A Day of Action for Workers A Day of Action for Workers

As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune has written, union members and environmentalists share a common vision of creating healthy, safe, prosperous communities across America. Together we fight for policies that ensure clean air, water and lands, and decent wages, health care, and a secure retirement for working families.

On April 4, 2011, citizens across the nation will come together for a Day of Action for human, civil, and environmental rights and a better America. We will not allow corporate polluters and their political friends to take away the rights that Dr. King and thousands of others fought to secure. Find out how you can get involved.

Know someone who might be interested in the Sierra Club Insider? Help spread the word by using our online form to tell your friends, family, and co-workers about the Insider or simply forward this Insider on. (Some email clients strip the links out of emails when forwarded. If your email does this, you can also direct friends, family, and co-workers to our online version.)


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